Your Name is a Japanese animated film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. The film's narrative follows the lives of Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, two very different teenagers living in Japan.
Taki is a hot-headed teenage boy living in Tokyo and Mitsuha is an obedient - though not exactly happy with the arrangement - teenage girl living in the rural town of Itomori. Their lives cross-over when they realise they have swapped bodies.
Through each character we see a different Japan - 'their' Japan. On one side we see the hustle-and-bustle of city life and from the other we see the importance of traditions that still hold meaning, even if their reasoning is now hidden.
(As a side note, Japanese language students are in for a little treat too).
It’s hard for me to watch any animation and not draw comparison with the magic that Miyazaki creates. There’s no doubt of his influences in this film, but then which animators these days don’t point to Miyazaki, or any other Studio Ghibli creation, and say it inspired them?
If I were to say that Makoto Shinka is the ‘new Miyazaki’ I wouldn’t be alone, but that would be unfair to both of them. Makoto Shinka has his own voice and his own style. To say he is the “new Miyazaki” discounts the uniqueness of them both.
Your Name is a critically acclaimed film that has dominated the box office in Japan, and it's Trailer is stunning. But that's not the only reason you should see it.
You should see it because it's an experience. Some visual experiences are impossible to put into words, made more difficult by not wanting to overstate things. This is one of those times.
Where most stories will transport you from the real world to somewhere fantastic, this film gets caught up in someone else’s real world. Character movement, voices and language leave you in no doubt as to when the softly spoken Mitsuha is in fearless Taki's body and to when Taki has taken over Mitsuha’s body.
The film's narrative draws you into their worlds; weaves you into the threads of their lives and before you realise it, you’re not just along for the ride, you’re in it. When it rains, you can feel the cold droplets falling on you. The direction of scenes, the use of sound or the painful use of silence; it has you tumbling from hilarity, to feelings of triumph, to utter despair.
In those hours between when the movie begins and when it ends, if you let it, you can be as connected to the lives unravelling before you, as they are in each other. The investment comes at a price, which made it at times a hard film to watch, but an impossible one to look away from.
If you go and watch this film, be prepared for more than a viewing, but a total experience of being entwined into two very different lives.